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On Monday the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that the Minneapolis mayor had breached his duty to staff the police department at the minimum level specified by the city charter. (The Supreme Court also ruled that the city council was in compliance with the related funding requirement.) For some reason or other, the police department has “lost” some 300 officers since the summer of George Floyd. The city is now some 100 police officers short of meeting its legal requirement to staff the department at the minimum level set by the charter.
Given the difficulties of recruiting under the circumstances, the city is confronted with a complicated situation. The city will be put to the challenge of proving of proving up compliance with the charter’s minimum staffing requirement or its good-faith efforts to do so. The mayor may be able to prove that he is unable to get this basic component of his job done. Maybe the city is incapable of providing a minimum level of police protection. After all, who in his right mind would go to work for the Minneapolis Police Department? Let us get a clue.
The Supreme Court order presents a late opportunity to chew over the crisis confronting the city. The 300 officers who have taken retirement or disability since the summer of George Floyd should have set off a warning flare along with the crime wave that has accompanied the department’s shrinkage. Even if the department were able to meet the legal minimum staffing requirement, it would still be short-staffed.
The restoration of civic order is a long way away. Complacency nevertheless reigns. Single party rule is not a recipe for good government.
The police department continues to take a beating from all comers. Most recently, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has charged it with systemic discrimination. Has anyone (other than me) questioned the likelihood that the department is guilty of 10 years of “race based policing,” as charged — a period (January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2020) that covers the leadership of Tim Dolan, Janeé Harteau, and Medaria Arradondo?
The Supreme Court order brings a variety of issues to the fore, all of them basic to the city’s survival. We await the commentary of the Star Tribune editorial board on these issues. Turning to the paper today, we find the attention of the editors turned elsewhere. They opine that “Voters suffer with fewer choices.” Unfortunately, the editorial is not referring to the city’s only daily newspaper.
No, the editorial refers to races for sheriff and county attorney in counties around the state. “A contested, competitive race allows voters to at least consider different perspectives on how an elected job should be done.” This is true of course, but it isn’t the case in Hennepin County (which includes the city of Minneapolis), at least this year. However, the lack of choice decried by the editors applies in spades to the city’s only daily newspaper.